Mix festering rage with edgy wit and you have a powerful formula for theatrical success. And playwright Eric Bogosian captures a lot of that pissed-off magic in Pounding Nails In The Floor With My Forehead, now at the None Too Fragile Theater.
With Sean Derry as the sole actor, this is a revisiting of the performance Derry did some years ago as part of the Bang and Clatter company. And it once again highlights many of Derry’s significant strengths: his go-for-broke commitment to the scuzziest of characters, his precise comic timing, and his willingness to engage and confront an audience.
Under the smooth direction of Alanna Romansky, the two-act show glides from character to character as Bogosian unwraps various forms of male bile—from odd sexual predilections (one involving Dame Judi Dench fucking him in the ass while pounding on his head with a wooden mallet) to various macho frustrations with feminist excesses, suburban sell-outs and people who drive Honda Accords at the speed limit.
It is a tribute to Derry that he can still ignite jokes from some damp, dated material. In “Medicine,” the script pokes fun at all the side effects from some drugs. This was written long before the TV ads that dominate these days, with descriptions of side effects that are truly terrifying and funnier, in a ghastly way, than anything Bogosian could imagine.
While Derry has perfected his vocal presentation over the years, developing his deep guttural rasp into a kind of narrative music reminiscent of Tom Waits, this “fried” voice has its limitations. One is that it’s harder to delineate different characters since they all sound like variations of one guy.
But when that one guy is Sean Derry, you are in for one whale of a ride. And you’ll find yourself laughing in spite of yourself.
Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead
Split run: 11-24, 11-25, then 12-5 through 12-8, None Too Fragile Theater, 1835 Merriman Road, Akron (Enter through Bricco Pub), 330-671-4563.